Imagining the Impossible: International Journal for the Fantastic in Contemporary Media 2022-07-07T13:20:06+02:00 Rikke Schubart Open Journal Systems <p>This international and peer-reviewed journal is dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of the fantastic in today’s entertainment media. The journal is double blind peer-reviewed and 1-3 issues are published per year. </p> Fairy-Tale Reanimation Wanted for Better Futures 2021-12-17T13:44:54+01:00 Cristina Bacchilega Pauline Greenhill <p>Among genres of the fantastic, fairy tales are set apart in their traditional and most popular versions by the hope they seek to elicit through magical transformations and expectation of happy endings. Their success testifies to their paradoxical functions as <em>pathways showing the route to a ready-made adult life</em> but also <em>imaginative solutions to problems experienced by those who are</em> <em>small, vulnerable, or different</em>. The proliferation of adaptations in the contemporary fairy-tale web signals the need to revitalize fictions in danger of losing their appeal as generators of hope. We consider two fairy-tale adaptations—a graphic novel and a feature film—and their wondrous reanimating strategies, specifically revitalizing the genre’s crossover appeal and recognizing relations across differences. Our approach recognizes that fairy tales can open up possibilities for being and acting in the world that are not confined to socially sanctioned paths. </p> 2022-09-30T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Cristina Bacchilega, Pauline Greenhill Playing at Being a Superhero 2022-01-18T08:37:04+01:00 Stephanie Green <p><strong>Abstract</strong></p> <p>The superhero fantasy Jessica Jones completed its third and final season having offering a sustained exploration of (dis)ability, social responsibility and the female superhero. In this essay, I examine the tensions between play and responsibility in relation to the character of Trish Walker, Jessica Jones’s adoptive sister and friend. I draw from Giorgio Agamben’s notion of ‘play’ and ideas from cognitive psychology such as ‘flow’ (Csikszentmihalyi 2014) and ‘dark play’ (Linderoth and Mortensen 2015), to consider how the series positions the two women, awkwardly but interestingly, in terms of gender and justice.</p> <p>Trish Walker’s ambition is to be a superhero like Jessica and she eventually attains this, first through the use of chemical enhancement, in Season One. In the episode At the end of Season Two, Trish gains enduring physical powers of agility and strength through a medical experiment, improving her new abilities through intensive physical practice, and sets out to become a vigilante, like Hellcat in the original comic (Marvel 1944/1976). She begins spending her time on the streets with the intention of fighting crime, but, after her mother is murdered in Season Three, she sets out on a path of punishment and revenge without ethical restraint.</p> <p>Can Trish’s transformation be seen as a form of ‘play’ – at attempt to express the sense of selfhood that has been subsumed under her mother’s needs? Is her determination to become ‘super’ a way to break-out from her famous persona as the cute little girl of a television show? Is it instance of flow – the directed use of attention to gain advantage? (Csikszentmihalyi 2014) Can it be seen as a form of ‘dark play’ (Linderoth and Mortensen 2015) in which the audience, along with the character of Trish, is invited to see what happens and how it feels to take revenge? Is it a negative compulsion in which self-determined autonomy and social responsibility are undermined by the imperative to act at all costs? Or, has Trish been framed, to some extent, by the limited scope available for female characters in action combat roles?</p> 2022-10-11T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Stephanie Green Antiheroes in the Rubble 2022-03-23T15:32:27+01:00 Marco Favaro <div> <p><span lang="EN-US">In contemporary popular culture, we see a growing number of both antiheroic characters and dystopias in which society as we know it has ceased to exist. Antiheroes are not necessarily placed in dystopian narratives, but the combination of antihero-dystopias is significant. The dystopia forces us to adopt a new moral compass, one which does not allow a superficial dichotomy of good versus evil. Camus’ philosophical ideas, particularly those articulated in <em>The Rebel</em>, are vital to understanding the controversial morality of the dystopic narrative. If society collapses and there is nothing left to save, what role does the hero have? Is it possible to be a hero in a condemned world? The answers to these questions will be addressed in relation to three media fictions: <em>V for Vendetta</em>, <em>Watchmen</em>, and <em>The Last of Us</em>. This article explores the possibility that the only possible heroism inside a dystopian narrative is antiheroic. </span></p> </div> 2022-06-24T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Marco Favaro Representation, Otherness and Fantastic Storyworlds: Breaking Gender Binaries and Reworking Identities in Game of Thrones 2021-12-20T07:09:35+01:00 Louise Coopey <p style="font-weight: 400;"><em>Game of Thrones’ </em>(HBO, 2011-2019) fantastic storyworld incorporates narrative and representational arcs that interrogate its gendered social, cultural and political framework. Working from Schubart and Gjelsvik’s (2016:1) assertion that the show’s female characters are ‘key to the originality […], appeal and popularity of the GoT universe’, I argue that the show capitalizes on fantasy’s position outside the realities and limitations of the human condition. In doing so, it challenges representational binaries through characters like Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) and Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) from their respective positions within and outside of the structures of power. They push back against the gendered expectations imposed on them by the patriarchal established order, reworking their own identities to forge their own paths. My analysis therefore reflects the scope for a multiplicity of complex identities to emerge within the show and for a deeper understanding of the representational possibilities in television.</p> 2022-06-19T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2022 Louise Coopey